Gays Still Excluded From Equality Bill

Religious minorities get full protection, gays get vague promise.

No rights in goods, services, housing or education.

Ban on homophobic discrimination may take years.


London – 21 November 2005

“Despite Lord Alli’s valiant efforts, the amended Equality Bill does not outlaw discrimination against lesbians and gay men in the provision of goods and services, housing or education,” said Brett Lock of the LGBT human rights group OutRage!

“When the Bill is finally passed by parliament, it will not protect lesbian, gay or bisexual people against discrimination.

“Lord Alli’s amendment merely gives the government the option of introducing regulations to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation at some unspecified point in the future. It is only a technical, enabling amendment.

“It says the Secretary of State ‘may’ introduce regulations to outlaw discrimination or harassment based on a person’s sexuality. But it does not require him to do so, nor does it specify any time frame. If the government does eventually introduce such regulations, they will have to be debated again and voted on by both Houses of Parliament before they become law.

“It could take years before sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited.

“The good news is that if Lord Alli’s amendment is eventually legislated, it will provide LGBT people with comprehensive protection against discrimination – not just in goods and services, but also in housing and education.

“As the amended Equality Bill now stands, hotels will remain free to turn away same-sex couples. Bars and restaurants will be able to refuse to serve homosexuals. Landlords will be at liberty to refuse premises to gay people and to evict gay tenants. Schools will remain permitted to deny enrolment to gay pupils and to expel them.

“This discrimination will only end when the government brings forward new regulations to enact Lord Alli’s amendment. Unfortunately, the government will not say when this will happen.

“If Labour is committed to LGBT equality, why were we excluded from the Bill in the first place? The government did not have to omit lesbians and gays from all the key clauses of the Equality Bill. It chose to do so.

“Religious minorities are being given comprehensive protection under this Bill, but the LGBT community has been thrown the crumb of equality legislation at some indeterminate point in the future. Yet again we are being shafted by Labour,” said Mr Lock.